The Luton club closed in March 2020, like all bingo clubs due to the national lockdown, but unlike other clubs remained closed while the teams at Mecca planned and designed the refurbishment, led by the results of extensive research.
The venue was initially built in the late 1960s/early 70s as a bowling alley and ice rink and was first operated as a bingo club by Ladbrokes, before then being taken over by Top Rank Limited in 1986 (Rank purchased a number of Ladbrokes sites the same year). It was then extended in 1998.
Bingo Connect spoke to Catrin White, Retail Marketing Director for Mecca about the exciting development of the new style leisure venue.
What was the player/customer profile for the venue and how did this compare in comparison to other clubs before it was closed?
Nationwide, we have seen a resurgence in popularity of bingo as people look for new and immersive experiences, especially since we came out of lockdown. With this in mind, we’re expecting to see a new and younger audience drawn to Mecca Luton, as well as our longstanding and much loved regular bingo players. With the safe space it offers to socialise and the huge variety of entertainment options, it has all the makings of a great night out; plus the added rush of a possible win! We’re expecting our customer base to continually grow and diversify.
When did the club close and where were the staff during the re-fit?
Like all of our UK clubs, Mecca Luton closed temporarily because of the Covid-19 pandemic back in March 2020. Due to the club’s planned refurbishment and transformation, it has since stayed closed while works are completed.
During the pandemic, in order to minimise any loss of jobs, Mecca, like many businesses, took the decision to furlough its team members. For Luton, this meant that 18 team members were furloughed. With the club’s closure continuing once lockdown restrictions lifted due to its refurbishments, some team members took the decision to find employment elsewhere, however we are happy to have retained a total of six team members at other local venues and to welcome others back once we reopen.
What are the key features of the new club: design, layout, furniture, areas within the venue, facilities, bar, food, electronic bingo, etc?
The newly refurbished Luton club will look completely different from the club our customers may remember – it is better than you could imagine: decked out in bright colours, stylish and with comfortable furniture, and social media-worthy selfie spots. Spanning two floors, with a bright and airy atmosphere, there are lots of social spaces for cocktails, food – and of course bingo. The bingo tables themselves will be large and comfortable for socialising. All-new lighting, sound, video and graphics capabilities provide an enhanced bingo and entertainment experience, making it the perfect place to enjoy a night out with friends.
What was the thinking and research that shaped the new venue – what customer insights did the process reveal?
We’ve seen in our own research that people are looking for experience driven nights out, people want something thrilling and exciting that you can really get absorbed in. Bingo came out as the top activity people were looking to take up post lockdown and all signs of growth since May 2021 have been positive.
How does this latest version of the Mecca club fit with Rank’s future leisure aims?The all-new Luton Mecca Bingo provides the blueprint for the future of Mecca. Its state of the art facilities elevate the bingo experience for all, providing a place for entertainment as well as bingo. Learning and takeaways from the Luton club will help guide future refurbishments and new venues for Mecca Bingo.
What changes are Rank hoping to see at the site. Change of customer profile? Increased membership, increased visits, increased spend, changes in player behaviour etc?
We’ve created a venue to appeal to customers of all ages, whether regular, occasional or new. We hope that the club we’ve created will encourage existing players to visit more often and stay for longer.
A key part of the new club is not just the environment but also the offer, accommodating a new bingo schedule with more bingo to play throughout the day, entertainment at the weekends and great food and drink.
When will the club open and what can customers look forward to?
Mecca Luton will be complete in late January and will reopen to the public in February. We are excited to be welcoming customers back after so long and have some amazing treats in store as part of the club’s transformation.
Mecca Luton is coming back bigger and better than ever. We’re ready to show off our ‘wow’ factor and get the bingo balls rolling again. Existing or new customers can come and play anytime – with a game of bingo at a time to suit everyone. There will be some exclusive nights especially for our loyal existing customers to welcome them back to club and introduce them to their new club. We will be using social media – Facebook and a new Instagram page, email, and direct mail, plus local advertising to keep everyone informed of the relaunch.
As well as a new leisure venue, there are new food and drink menus, with something for everyone, including vegan and gluten-free options. There is a new open kitchen, with pizza oven and chargrill. Food options range from small plates that can be mixed and matched, pizzas, burgers and steak, as well as some fabulous new dessert options. Guests will get to quench their thirst with Mecca’s new drinks menu, which includes well known brands, a new cheeky cocktail and wine range, a wide range of premium gins and beers, as well as alcohol free options.
In addition to bingo, Mecca Luton will play host to a wide variety of themed nights and events, including brunches, comedy nights, live music, Bonkers Bingo and takeovers, as well as great prizes and top of the range machines.
And finally, which lucky GM will be leading the launch and the new club?
The General Manager will be Tim Perry, who was the previous GM for Mecca in Hayes. The relaunch of Mecca Luton is creating more than 50 new jobs and we have been busy recruiting for a wide range of roles, including team members, kitchen team members, and bingo callers.